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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The art of fighting without fighting

Some wisdom from William:

If you do not recognise the phrase, Bruce Lee said it in one of his movies,..with a great accent that is unmistakably Mr. Lee. Despite the Hollywood flavour of some of his movies, Bruce Lee had a sophisticated philosophy of fighting, which was paradoxically simple and straight forward. However I will not explain or attempt to portray his philosophy. I did a bit of King Fu (or as a friend would say...Pong Foowee....not sure how you spell it) when I was 13 years. Then I did about 6 months of boxing when I was about 15. It would be over 25 years later before I would place another glove on my hand, which I did about 2 years ago and I did some boxing technique classes. I found it challenging to get the technique and body movement’s right, and I really enjoyed getting fit. But I was not interested in boxing for the sake of learning to hit somebody in the head. I was always attracted to an approach to fighting that emphasised philosophy and discipline aswell.

Sparring was part of the boxing technique class, and if you haven’t sparred for a while, it is a little scary, particularly if you have no interest in knocking the other guys head off. The lack of that ….venom…can place you at a disadvantage, with younger and fitter opponents. However, I learnt that the biggest opponent I faced in the ring was myself. How I boxed, how I responded, was an expression of how I managed my own emotions. Psychology and psychotherapy is a profession that seeks to teach people to manage their own subjective experience. It is very hard to teach people to manage there subjective experience, and academic psychology believes that you can educate people to do this partly by providing information about how thoughts affect how I feel, and how I behave, a much larger topic of discussion. However, the boxing ring is one arena where you come face to face with the challenge of managing your own emotions, and you live it. Your responses and ability to move in the ring is affected your ability to manage fear. Fear, is a useful emotion, and it gives you valuable information in a split second. However, it can also restrict your attention, as does anger. Fear, and the fear reflex allows you to attempt to avoid the fist as it travels towards your head. I don’t recommend blocking with your head, as I tried that but it didn’t seem to work too well. However, it narrows your focus on that fist, and you don’t see opportunities, or how that punch may be a tactic to set you up for another punch. I have found that a peaceful, yet focused mind is really useful, but it is very hard to achieve. This is the magic of the boxing ring. It is all about you. The question is always how you respond. You cannot escape that responsibility easily or cheaply. Not like in daily life where you can hide behind numerous responses, because you never see the consequences of how you decide to respond. I am reminded of father Dave’s reference to cynicism as ones response to life, society and the world. It is easy to be cynical because you don’t see the consequences of your response. The boxing ring is one arena that teaches that what happens depends on how you respond....that there is a consequence and relationship between what you do...and who you are,..and what happens. Or at least it has that potential. The boxing ring is an arena where you are faced with the challenge of how you face your foe. It is a great metaphor for life, because what happens in a round of boxing is unpredictable, and just because you lose one round does not mean the fight is lost. It is a moment-by-moment evolution in which you are a deciding factor and actor.


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